September 27, 2007
Positive Feedback! Efficient & Effective
I have found this to be a wonderfully useful tool. It saves your time while providing an extraordinarily high level of feedback and/or instruction for your students. The tool? Microsoft’s “Sound Recorder.” It’s probably sitting on your hard drive right now. It’s easy to use … with a headset mike or just talking into your computer’s microphone. Did you know your laptop has a microphone built in? (Maybe yes, maybe no … ask your tech support helper if you can’t determine. If it doesn’t have one, ask for a mike to plug in.)
Suggested uses . . .
· Tip of the day, tip of the week – in an email sent to a specific person, specific group or all students, let them know that if they open the sound message they’ll receive a helpful tip by listening (for example) only 20 seconds. Send them something amazing so they’ll open the next one!
· If you are lucky enough to receive written student work from time to time, this is an excellent way to comment on it. In the body of your email, encourage the student to have a copy of her/his work on the desk, and make notations while listening to your vocal feedback. You’ll find you can say much more than you can write in margins … and you don’t need to make an appointment with the student to deliver the feedback. Result: more personalized help for more students in less time.
· You’ll find it’s a great way to encourage students to attend your presentations, others’ presentations, or off-campus conferences. Mention the conference in an email, and include “I’ve included a 20-second message about how this can help boost your GPA … just click here!”
· If you have the tech-capability at your school, you can store bunches of tips and information on a site that all students can access whenever they want.
Microsoft's is not the only recorder, of course. I use others as well ... but if it's on your computer already, this might be the best way to begin to get used to recording messages for your students.
Caveat 1: Keep the vocal messages short. Students don't want to listen to a rambling "tip." (I think it's different in the case of feedback on a piece of writing, however. Line-by-line positive feedback ... "This is a great way to introduce the rule of law! You should do this more often!" ... will keep them listening ... then you can slip in something like, "What would really help is if you included all four ways of proving malice ... here's how I would suggest you could do that...." A recording like this can go on for several minutes and keep the student's attention.)
Caveat 2: It’s critical not to overuse this method. Remember, emails are easy to delete without opening. (djt)
September 24, 2007
Left Brain / Right Brain
All of us who are blessed with sight have some degree of visualization capability. Often, accessing that right-brain function can bring clarity to a text-based problem that borders on incomprehensible during the stress of an examination.
Do you tell your students to draw diagrams during the pre-writing stage of exam-answering? Consider showing them how. Of course, the illustration above (based on a standard Blueacre & Whiteacre real property problem) has more actual words in it than the diagram the student would make in the rush of an exam session – these words are for illustrative purposes here. If you demonstrate how to convert a Property exam problem into a sensible (literally) representation, be sure to stress that abbreviation is essential! (djt)